Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dublin.San Fran.Napa

I was bummed when Conor told me that he had a two week business trip in Dublin, CA....but then the wonderful news came: Dublin is 1 hour from wine country.  He had to say no more, I was on board for this trip!  Since I don't have a new job yet, I was able to accompany him for the whole time.  The only problem we had with our plans was what to do with our cats....? We haven't met any friends in AZ yet, so there was no one to watch them.  We were left with no choice, but to hire a PET NANNY, hahaha.  I never thought I would use those two words together.  We are officially crazy cat people.  But it worked out well, and I was free to make my way to Napa.

Conor worked about 10 minutes away from our hotel, so I still got to see him for lunch everyday.  Some of you might be wondering what I did in a hotel all day, but surprisely I stayed very busy and entertained.  Did lots of reading on my kindle!  I only began to get some cabin fever on the last two days.  Conor and I had a blast in California, especially finding new places to eat everynight including some pretty great happy hours, amazing mexican, and some of the best raspberry cider I've ever had!  We both loved the area are hoping that Conor may be able to do a rotation in Dublin....

Dublin is also only 45 minutes away from San Fran!  We went into the city twice and had drinks and dinner with a couple of our friends, Lindsey Cochran & Dave Aron.  They both live in the North Beach area, so we ate some awesome italian food on both visits.  It was soooo great to see them both; hopefully we will be making more visits there sometime soon.

The highlight of the trip: Napa! 

The weather was great, the scenery breathtaking, the wine plentiful, the food delicious, and the company the best! We spent Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning/afternoon in Napa.  We had gotten a couple of recommendations on where to go, but we also chose some random wineries we wanted to check out.  Conor didn't get off work til lunch time, so by the time we made it to Napa most wineries were closed.  However, we did have time to make a quick stop at Robert Mondavi.  We had been trying to avoid the touristy locations, but we were on a time crunch.  It was fun, but of all the wineries in Napa, I would not recommend a stop there.  On a side note, in the parking lot we saw a group of "tourists" pounding some white wine and a huge bag of doritos! Mmmmm, those cheesy chips must really bring out the flavors of the wine...delicous!

That night we had dinner at the marketplace in downtown Napa.  On recommendation from our friend Dave, we ate at a place called HogIsland Oyster Co.  Conor and I both love raw oysters and were not disappointed.  Raw oysters, adult mac & cheese, an oyster poh'boy, and a bottle of white wine later, we were doing quite well.  Dave also told us to check out this wine bar called the Bounty Hunter.  It is a must stop if you head to Napa.  Lots of delicious and local (obviously) wines by the glass.  I could have stayed all night.  We met a crazy couple from Texas that wanted to become our best friends.  They offered to let us stay in their hotel, but we graciously turned them down.  Gotta love meeting people on vacation.

Day 2 in Napa was a big success.  First stop was Domaine Carneros for a sparkling wine flight and cheese board!  Two of my most favorite things.  They have some beautiful property with a great view...and table service, which I came to love and want for all my wine tastings.  I loved one of the cheeses, midnight moon by cyprus  hill.  They also make humboldt fog which has been my absolute favorite cheese for years.  The whole experience was great.  I pulled the industry card, saying my family owns a bar, and was offered lots of extra tastings...yum yum.  Most of the wineries are beginning to harvest...and you could smell it in the air.  Next stop was Clos Du Val...the overall experience was a little boring, but the limited release white wines were great.  Then we were on to Mumm Napa for more sparkling wine!
We tried their sparkling reds for something different and loved them both. 
A whole new world of sparkling wine has opened up to me.  The last stop of the day was Hall.  This was a wonderful small, family owned winery.  We received excellent service here while sitting in a small picnic area shaded by trees.  Their merlots and cabernets were terrific.  We had had plenty of wine by this point and called it quits for the day.

First stop on Day 3: Artesa.  This winery had one of the best views
It was set up on a hill, so the tasting room was somewhat "underground."  A very modern winery with lots of art, very different from anything else we saw.  The wine was nothing to write home about it, but the location was worth the visit (it's on some back roads so you have a chance to get off the main highways for awhile.)

Our very last winery and our favorite....KEENAN!!!  And not just 'cause of the name.  The wines were incredible, unlimited and large tastings, complimentary cheese board, and an impromtu tour.  You have to make an appointment to visit this winery, which is nice because then you have the full attention of whomever is serving you.  The tasting room is an old building which houses their wine barrels.  It is set in the middle of a mountain hidden in the woods.  Such a different experience from all the other wineries we visited.  We had picked up some meat and cheeses on way up there, and had a picnic on their deck when we finished with our tasting.  A perfect weekend with my husband!

Already getting the infamous Simpson purple teeth

It was a very successful trip...10 bottles of wine later.  We are trying to acquire a small collection and attempt to cellar a few for some years, but we'll see if we can hold off on consumption!

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